Share It or Lose it? Power-Sharing and Regime Stability in Multi-Ethnic Autocracies

With Ilyas Saliba. Working Paper.

How does ethnic power-sharing affect autocratic survival? The recent literature identifies formal power-sharing institutions as key source of regime stability. Unfortunately, most institutionalist analyses remain silent on the identity of those who share power, the degree to which power is shared, and the effects of actually observed levels of power-sharing. Using data on the ethnic composition of authoritarian ruling coalitions allows us to overcome these limitations. Our analysis of authoritarian regime duration reveals that ethnic power-sharing stabilizes personalist and party-based regimes but destabilizes military dictatorships. Including potential ethnic challengers reduces the risk of external threats to regime stability but may at the same time invite internal challenges. The institutionalization of elite cooperation in party-based regimes and the personalization of power under "big man rule" both relax this key dilemma of authoritarian politics. Under military rule, however, inherent commitment problems lead to shorter durations of multi-ethnic ruling coalitions.

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